Thursday, November 5, 2015

It's Your breath in our lungs

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
To You only

I can't sing this song without tearing up.
It was God's breath in my lungs when I was in the hospital.
It was His grace that kept my body fully supplied with precious oxygen even when my lung partially collapsed!
I will pour out my praise to Him over and over again!

Great are You, Lord!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The First Half - Part 3: Week 8

(Continued from Part 2) [Mandi said we needed to go to the ER] 

So Neil called me immediately to tell me he was headed home, but due to my hypersensitivity to life (sound, light, etc) I had my phone on silent and was sleeping.  He freaked out and thought I was dead! He came running in the house yelling my name! I woke up in a panic, inwardly grumbling that I didn't feel like getting out of bed and going to the ER.  Neil gathered up ice chips and a cold wash cloth and my throw up cup, (you know, the basics *wink*) while I tried to get my shoes on.  While he was doing that, I suddenly couldn't take a breath.  I later found out that was because my right lung had partially collapsed.  I was left gasping for air, feeling like I could only take 20% off a normal breath.  Neil kicked it into hyper speed and we rushed to the hospital.  

When we got to the ER, I was still gasping for breath.  I waved Neil over to the check in desk.  I just knew that if they heard the words "pregnant" and "can't breath" I would be rushed back to a room.  Um, no.  That didn't happen.  The man gave Neil a bunch of paper work, then instructed him to move his car from in front of the building or it would be towed.  As I realized I was not getting a room, but expected to just sit in the waiting room gasping for breath, I started to cry, which isn't a good combo when you feel like you can't breath. Neil went back to the man again, and he came over with a clip to put on my finger to test my blood oxygen levels.  Miraculously, they were showing that despite my feeling like my lungs had stopped working, the test showed my blood oxygen was fully saturated.  This was good, since I was apparently getting oxygen, but bad for getting me quickly to a room.  Finally they took me to triage, then to a pre-check up room, then eventually to a private room.

Once in the room I begged for oxygen.  They put an oxygen tube in my nose and I was so surprised that it didn't seem to help at all.  I still felt like I couldn't get any air.  The Dr ran a variety of tests.  He ordered an X-Ray of my lungs, and then followed up with a CT scan. I felt like a broken record, telling every person that came in (in my gasping voice) "I'm 8 weeks pregnant!" I wanted everyone to be fully aware so that they didn't accidentally give me medication, or do a test that would harm the baby.  Unfortunately, most of their responses were - surprise - verification - statement of risk (what?! you're pregnant? Well, we need to do [XYZ], and need your consent.  It could be harmful to the baby.) The staff was incredibly nice and everyone was very diligent in doing everything they could to protect both me and the baby, but that phrase "it could be harmful to the baby" repeated over and over, while Neil and I had to give our consent over and over, made me just break down crying.  Again, not a good thing when you can't breathe.

The staff tried to be as considerate as possible regarding the safety of the baby, putting extra lead aprons on my stomach to protect the baby and using lower radiation settings in the X-ray.  They ran the least amount of tests possible to diagnose what was going on and why I couldn't breathe.

At this point, I didn't really realize the gravity of my situation.  The ER was packed that night.  A man was lying on a bed in the hall just outside my door.  He had a bad cut of some sort, and I remember thinking, why do I get my own private room, when he has to just lay in the hall. It started to dawn on me a little bit when my nurse was rushing in and out of my room.  She apologized and said that she had two patients right now who were both extremely ill - meaning me and one other person.

The ER Dr. looked at the X-Rays and concluded that we needed to do a CT Scan to determine the severity of the clots.  Neil was hesitant about the CT Scan because of the potential risk to the baby, but there really wasn't a better way around it.  The CT Scan showed that about 40% of my capillary bed was covered in clots.

After the tests came back, my ER doctor came in the room and asked my sweet nurse if she had given me the medicine he ordered yet.  He rather barked at her and we thought he was being kinda rude. She hurried to give me the medicine.

The Dr explained to us that I had a Pulmonary Embolism.  We asked the Dr, is this severe.  He slowly moved his head to one side and replied solemnly, "its pretty severe".

This explained why he was in a bit of a panic and being brisk with the nurse. He needed her to give me blood thinner as quickly as possible to prevent more clots from forming and to start breaking up the clots that were already there, which could put a strain on my heart. Or if a large enough clot broke loose, it could cause death. His urgency was out of concern for me, not his ego like we had originally thought!

The ER doctor called in the pulmonary doctor, Dr. F, who was starting his 7 day shift in the hospital on that Monday when I entered the ER.  This was totally a God thing, meaning I would be under his continuous care for the majority of my hospital stay.  

Dr. F was worried about the PE putting a strain on my heart so he ordered an EKG and and echocardiogram.  Both tests came back showing no hypertension or strain on my heart at all.  He seemed surprised by these results.

Dr. F also explained that the pain I was feeling in my back was called pleurisy or pleuritic pain. WebMD says this:

The double-layered pleura protects and lubricates the surface of the lungs as they inflate and deflate within the rib cage. Normally, a thin, fluid-filled gap -- the pleural space -- allows the two layers of the pleural membrane to slide gently past each other. But when these layers become inflamed, with every breath, sneeze, or cough, their roughened surfaces rub painfully together like two pieces of sandpaper.

My OBGYN, Dr. P rushed to the ER when she got word from the hospital that I was there.  She just happened to be in my room when Dr. F came in to decide which medicines would be the most safe for me and the baby.  It was incredible that they were able to consult together on the spot to work everything out quickly.

They also ordered an ultrasound of the baby while I was in the ER.  The sweet ultrasound tech came in and I asked her if she could see a heart beat.  She told us that she was not allowed to discuss what she saw with us, but she strategically pointed to the screen, showing us a flashing flicker, indicating the baby's heartbeat :)

During this time Neil's parents had Hadley, and they were taking turns checking on us in the ER room.  We didn't want Hadley to come to the room since all the tube and machines might be scary to her. They prayed with us and brought Neil dinner.  A. Vicki and U. Mike also came by.

After about 5 hours in the ER they moved me to ICU.  I remember several different people mentioning to me that I would be getting a PICC line.  At the time I didn't know what that was, exactly.  And each time it was mentioned, it was said in a round about kind of way, which made me worried.  Usually something like, "once the PICC line is in... you will really like having it".  Finally I just asked someone straight up, is this PICC line a big deal? -- oh no! they assured me, not a big deal.

If you aren't familiar with a PICC line, it stands for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter.  Its basically a long term, more stable, IV.  A nurse specially trained in PICC lines uses an ultrasound to insert a tube into a vein in your arm. They can also do it in your chest, but mine was in my arm.  They can give medicine in the line, just like and IV, and draw blood from it, but it can stay in long term, like months and months.  An IV is more unstable and needs to be reinserted every 3 days.

So they wheeled me into the ICU and told me that they were going to insert the PICC line and I basically had a panic attack.  They laid me back to prep for the PICC, which made made it a lot more difficult to breathe.  I was already having so much trouble breathing and was then being faced with a potentially painful PICC line that I didn't understand.  All this combined with the stress of the day was just too much.  I guess they ended up giving me something to calm me down, because the next thing I knew I was waking up in a different room in the ICU and the PICC line was in.  

I don't remember a whole lot from my time in the ICU.  I remember being a jerk to Neil.  At this point I apparently had a million tubes coming out of me.  I had an oxygen sensor on my finger, an IV in my left arm and a blood pressure cuff on my bicep.  I had the PICC line hooked to a different medication than the IV and an oxygen tube in my nose.  I also had sensors all over my body, with wires running everywhere. I needed to go to the bathroom, but didn't want to call for the nurse.  I told Neil that I needed him to help me get up, and he just reached over and pressed the call button for the nurse.  Boy that made me hopping mad! I said, "you can't just call for the nurse without consulting me! Why won't you help me?!" LOL seems so funny now, and obvious that he couldn't juggle 50 things and help me walk to the bathroom! But at the time I wasn't aware of being hooked to all that. I had apparently asked him to do this several times, and he was tired of explaining why he couldn't do it on his own.

Dr. F suspected that I had fluid in my lung and he planned to drain it (ouch). However, when they checked with an ultrasound, there was no fluid. God is good!

I also apparently took some selfie's and video's of myself while in ICU.  My bed automatically aired up and deflated to help prevent bed sores I believe.  But I swear this bed was messed up. The right half would inflate, then the left, then the right a bit more, then they would both deflate... it was terrible.  I called it the "rodeo bed" in my video and apparently wanted documentation so people would know I wasn't crazy! Sadly those videos got deleted, or I would attach one here... but I do have a selfie! Haha!

On the 2nd or 3rd day in ICU I started pulling out my oxygen tube.  It was driving me crazy and it wasn't helping because I didn't need oxygen support.  I guess my lung inflated somewhere in here and I was finally sick of having a tube on my face.  This really surprises me looking back on it, because I'm usually such a compliant person, but apparently not when I'm sick.  The nurses kept encouraging me to keep the tube in, but after having it out for a while with no alarm from my oxygen sensor, they decided to let me leave it off.

After 3 days in ICU, I was moved to the Cardiac floor.  The nurses here were not my favorite.  I think they probably have a tough job, dealing with very sick people who are possibly old, or near death, or cranky.  I don't know, but they didn't seem to enjoy their job very much.  At this point the nausea and vomiting came back in full force.  The Cardiac floor was apparently not used to caring for pregnant patients, especially not HG sufferers.  

One nurse in particular seemed quite inconvenienced when we asked for ice chips, and another nurse grumbled under his breath the whole time he was giving me my medication.  He was concerned about the effect all the medicine would have on the baby, and apparently didn't feel very good about giving it to me, but he did begrudgingly.  I feel so annoyed about that now, because he was basically implying that I wasn't concerned (or possibly the doctor wasn't concerned) about the welfare of my baby.  Like it was my fault I was having a PE? This medicine that was saving my life and allowing me to breathe, and attempting to control my nausea - this implied that I was unconcerned about my child? As if I wasn't already stressed to the max about the effects this could have on my sweet baby.  I'm sure that he is a very caring person and that he did not mean to imply all that I assumed his comments meant.  I probably should have reassured him that I had an excellent pulmonary doctor who had already consulted with my OBGYN and that we were doing everything we could to protect this child. But I digress.

My pulmonary doctor wanted me to do breathing treatments to help my lungs expand.  These treatments started out quite bearable.  This was because the tech was apparently doing it wrong.  Once they figured out the correct way to administer the treatment, it became unbearable.  To the point that after several days of multiple treatments, I finally refused to do it! (Rebel) Basically, you hold a large plastic tube in your mouth, while they pump medicated, humidified air into your lungs.  The forceful blasts of air come in succinct puffs, which helps to... i don't know... inflate the lungs and possibly break up the clots? The force of the air made my windpipe feel like it was about to burst.  But the main problem was the staccato air blasts rattled my whole body, which was just unacceptable with the amount of nausea I was experiencing.

I think I should explain that at this point I still didn't understand how serious PE is.  I was frustrated that the lung doctor was being all high and mighty and ignoring my hyperemesis.  He was asking me to do crazy things, like take walks.  Didn't he understand that I was extremely sick?  I felt like my main problem was they HG, when very obviously to everyone else, the huge problem was the PE.

After 4 days in the cardiac ward they moved me to the OB floor.  WHAT A RELIEF! Everyone was sooo nice! It was really incredible how friendly, caring and happy everyone who worked on that floor was. 

At this point I was still throwing up, and unable to keep anything down.  They had me on an IV nutrition called TPN.  Dr. P came to check on me often.  When I was still on the 5th floor she offered us a steroid to try.  She said that there were some risks associated with it, and we quickly turned her down.  I felt overwhelmed by the threats that had already been presented to my tiny 8 week old baby.  I couldn't risk a steroid treatment just so I could stop throwing up, could I?  --- Well, yes I could.  After several more days of no improvement, she offered us the steroid again.  We gave it renewed consideration and decided to try it.  At this point the risk of malnutrition, dehydration, and stress on my body was a big concern to the baby.  And the risks associated with the steroid, while viable risk factors, were very small.  Dr. P later told me that it broke her heart when I turned down the steroid the first time, because she was so confident that it could help me, and she knew how severely ill I was. 

The steroid turned out to be a miracle drug for me.  It doesn't help all women with HG across the board, and some women relapse after tapering off the drug.  I was set up for a 2 week taper, and thanks to God and a good Dr, the medicine completely stopped my vomiting.  It did not fix the nausea, but at least I was able to eat again, and I even took a shower!

We celebrated both Neil's birthday and our wedding anniversary while I was in the hospital.  I am blessed with the most incredible husband. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The First Half - Part 2: Weeks 6 & 7

These weeks are a little blurry for me.  I was very sick and Neil's parents helped tremendously by watching Hadley a lot for us. At some point, Neil took me to Urgent Care to have IV fluids.  We also called Dr. P to tell her that the Phenegrin was not working, and she prescribed us Diclegis.  That medicine worked great for a couple days, then stopped working altogether.  At this point our friend Mandi (who happens to be a doctor), was checking in on us frequently.  At her urging, we went in to see Dr. P.  I was operating under the assumption of my last pregnancy experience.  No one officially said to me that I had HG. The general attitude of the staff was, "just drink more water" or "make sure you are eating more than you are throwing up" or "everyone feels nauseous during pregnancy, there's nothing your Dr can do for you".  No one was exactly mean to me, they just gave off a "suck it up" kind of attitude, like I was just being a baby.

Mandi convinced us that this was not normal (not being able to keep anything down, throwing up all day, not being able to get out of bed except to just go to the bathroom, not being able to do normal tasks like shower or take care of my child) and Dr. P would want to know about it.  So we went in to see her and I asked for a wheelchair (her office is on the 3rd floor of the hospital).  I wore my sunglasses into the office because it was just too bright. Dr. P and her staff immediately jumped to action.  She said I had severe Hyperemesis Gravidarum and sent me home with a combination of nausea medication, including Zofran! She said she no longer gives Zofran to just anyone, and tries not to do it as a first resort, but in severe cases like mine, she had no problem prescribing it.  The risk of dehydration and malnutrition to both me and the baby were more concerning than the possible risk of birth defects caused by the medication.

If you aren't familiar with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) it is a severe form or morning sickness.  I love this chart, because anytime I start to wonder if I'm just "being a baby" or not as tough as other mothers who have wonderful normal pregnancies, I can look at this chart and check off the list and know I'm not crazy! They all apply to me, minus the vomiting blood - thank goodness! 

I saw Dr. P on Friday July 17th.  I don't know if I was just getting the Zofran too late in the game to help or what, but the nausea and vomiting continued.  I also began coughing, quite a bit, which I remembered doing in my previous pregnancy.  My last doctor said it fairly normal during pregnancy due to increased mucus production.  Neil and I privately felt it was a side effect I had from the Zofran, since it started as soon as I started taking the medication in both pregnancies, but I couldn't find anything online about coughing being a side effect of Zofran. 

Anyway, I was coughing the whole weekend and here's what I made of the situation. The severity of the coughing caused (or so I thought) some weird things to happen.  I pulled a muscle on the right side of my back, which caused a stabbing pain when I took a breath. Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but when you cough, your tongue thrusts forward.  All the coughing and thrusting must have pulled my tongue muscle because it hurt, but only the right side, as if a line were drawn down the middle. My right jaw hurt as well as the bones in the right side of my face, and my right hip. 

Are you picking up on a pattern here? Well luckily my incredible, attentive husband did. Right side, Right side, Right side. He called Mandi (remember, she's a doctor) and Mandi quickly noticed several symptoms pointing to a blood clot.  She said we needed to go to the ER right away!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The First Half - Part 1: Weeks 4 & 5

"Now this is the story all about how 
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, I'll tell you how....
...I went to the hospital and what happened there"

In case you were wondering, that's the Fresh Prince theme song (minus the hospital part).  If you already knew that, you probably grew up in the 90's :)

Today I am 20 weeks pregnant.  I'm going to try to recap the last 20ish weeks. In several installments. We'll see how wordy I get! ha!

I found out I was pregnant in a hotel in St. Charles, Missouri. We had just narrowly avoided a tornado.  Lets back up a bit.

Neil, Hadley and I loaded up the car (H didn't help much) and headed out on a two week trip.  The first week was in OKC at the Church of God Convention. We stayed with my parents and had a wonderful week! On Friday I started feeling weird, and Saturday, I definitely felt weird.  

We drove up to Springfield, MO and spent the day with old friends.  Sunday I woke up and felt pretty confident that I was pregnant. We were staying with our friend Kimberly and leading worship at LifeQuest that morning, so I just tried to act normal. It was so great to be back at LifeQuest! 

We headed to St. Charles to see Jon and Amanda Simmonds and had dinner with them.  When we left their house, it started to rain, and before we got to our hotel, it was a torrential down pour! The tornado sirens were going off and the radio was telling us we were real close to the heart of the storm! We debated sitting still in the car, or trying to drive out of the line of fire, and decided to make a run for it! We got back to the hotel and the TV showed a tornado right around the neighborhood we had just left (Jon and Amanda were safe).

Once all the excitement was over, I couldn't wait any longer and told Neil I wanted to take a pregnancy test (we had picked one up earlier in the day).  Sure enough, it confirmed we were pregnant - about 4.5 weeks along - on Sunday, June 28th, 2015.

The plan was to leave St. Charles and head to the Smokey Mountains for a camping trip. We started driving out that way, hopeful that I could make it a few more days before getting too sick, since I was 6+ weeks along with Hadley before I got very sick.  However, the combination of morning sickness and carsickness was too much for me.  About 2 hours away from our destination, we decided to call it quits.  That was so disheartening since we were so close! But I knew those two hours equaled several nights on an air mattress and adding 4 hours round trip to our expedition.

When we moved to Louisiana last year, we made it a priority to find an OBGYN that we really liked. We checked around to find someone highly recommended and found an incredible doctor who we love (Dr. P)!  During one of our first visits, I tried to express how sick I was in my first pregnancy, and went ahead and asked her up front if she would feel comfortable prescribing me medication over the phone if I were to be in that situation again.  My last doctor would not prescribe me anything until I visited his office and they were able to confirm I was pregnant.  Dr. P said she thought she would be ok with that, so it set our minds at ease.

So, back to our road trip, I called Dr. P's office and explained that I was pregnant, had a history of Hyperemesis and could they call in a prescription of Zofran for us to pick up on the road.  Here's the bad news -- in the last year a study has come out linking Zofran to birth defects. I've talked to several medical professionals and done some research on my own, and I'm not sure I agree with this study (this blog sums up the way I feel, if you are interested). But, because of this study, Dr. P tries not to give out Zofran if something else will work instead. So the sweet nurse offered me a different medication instead (phenegrin), which I had tried in the past to no avail.  But it was all I had, so I accepted.

We got back home on Wednesday July 1st. Neil and Hadley set up a tent in the back yard to do a little at home camping.  They even roasted marshmallows over a little fire pot! I was pretty jealous, but too nauseous to join in.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Seeing in the Dark

"Sometimes a devoted Christ follower is presented as one who jumps immediately from tragedy into a melodic 'God is good!' Powerful words indeed, but in most cases they must be spoken from the other side of pain. When the darkness forces us to the deepest recesses of our souls, it is there that we are able to decide if God is good."

Seeing in the Dark - Nancy Ortberg

When I was 8 weeks pregnant, laying in the hospital bed with severe Hyperemesis Gravidarum & 40% of the capillary bed in my right lung covered in clots, I knew God was with me, working in all things...

...but as I lay there, day after day, unable to eat, unable to even tolerate the lights being on in the room, I couldn't sing melodiously of God's goodness.  And I felt guilty.  I felt that if I were a stronger Christian, I wouldn't complain or grumble.

But in those dark days, I felt God's goodness.  And now I can point to those horrific weeks/months and sing/dance/shout/praise because of God's faithfulness.  He never left my side.  He saw me through.  He answered my prayers.  He healed me.

After two early miscarriages, I wondered if it was in God's plan for us to have more kids.  I asked God for this baby.  I begged, cried, and pleaded for this pregnancy. And even while in the hospital I remember thinking, this is worth it.  This is what I asked for! God heard me. He is good.

I knew He was good in the depths of my illness, but I knew the joy of that goodness on "the other side" of that pain.

My doctor recently told me that I was the most sick patient she has probably ever had.  And while I wouldn't want to go through this all again, I 100% look back and say - Yes! You are worth it! My sweet child, you are worth all of it.

A few examples of God's work during our journey:
  • Being Alive - Pulmonary Embolism is a leading cause of death in pregnant women.  Many times there are no symptoms, and can cause immediate death.
  • Fully Saturated Oxygen Levels - My right lung partially collapsed, which left me feeling like I could only take about 20% of a normal breath. The nurses kept checking my blood oxygen levels and seemed baffled that I was fully saturated, when it was apparent I was having so much trouble breathing. (They gave me an oxygen tube anyway).
  • No Hypertension - Because of the severity of the blood clots, the doctors did an EKG and an echocardiogram since they expected it to be putting a strain on my heart.  They seemed quite surprised that my heart was doing fine.
  • Excellent Care
    • The ER doctor and nurse were both very competent and once I made it through triage and into a room, they were fairly quick at figuring out what the problem was.  
    • God also worked it out that an incredible lung doctor was beginning his 7 day shift that day, so I was under his continuous care for most of my hospital stay.  
    • The other 'divine arrangement' was my OBGYN arriving at my ER room during the brief window of time that the pulmonary doctor was in talking to us.  The two doctors were able to consult right there on the spot to choose medications that were both effective and safe for me and the baby.  I am still blown away by this one in a million chance meeting that God worked out, just for me. 
    • My OBGYN has been so supportive during this entire ordeal, but particularly regarding my HG.  My last doctor would never diagnose me with hyperemesis, and was extremely hesitant to give me any medication to help with the extreme nausea.  My current doctor worked with me, trying 7 medications (starting with the most mild) before we found exactly what worked for me.  She has believe me and supported me the whole time. It has been an incredibly different experience.
  • End in Sight!
    • God has already healed me from my hyperemesis.  I will continue to take nausea medication for most (if not all) of my pregnancy.  But one dose a day keeps the nausea at bay 95% of the time.
    • Pulmonary Embolisms can sometimes be hereditary, and cause an ongoing condition know as Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension (CTEPH).  My pulmonary doctors believe that my clots were caused by inactivity (caused by the hyperemesis) and pregnancy.  Since I do not have a family history of PE and I never had hypertension, even before the clots were treated, my doctors do not expect me to have CTEPH, but I will be tested after the baby is born to make sure.  
    • I am on a daily shot of blood thinner that should clear up the blood clots over the next several months.

I have had countless people praying for me, from many different states.  My church even held a special prayer vigil for me when I was in ICU.  A woman described me on Sunday as a "walking miracle" and I have to say I agree with her.

God is so good.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

38 Week Bumpdate

How Far Along: 38 weeks
Total Weight Gain:  20 lbs (or 35 from my lowest low)

Baby Size:
Pumpkin (Average size: 18.9-20.9 inches, 6.2-9.2 lb.)

Baby might have an inch or so of hair already.
Her head is now about the same circumference as her abdomen. 

Maternity Clothes Comfort is key nowadays.  We are making it just fine - I stay in pajamas most of the day, which I'm sure Neil loves.  Ah what a glamorous wife he has ;)
Gender: We are having a Girl! 
Movement: Movement seems to have slowed down some.  I still feel her quite often throughout the day, but she is more sluggish than before.  Hardly any sharp kicks, just lazy rolls (and hiccups).  She is running out of room!
Sleep: Sleep is a little more uncomfortable.  My stomach is so big that when I lay on my side, it curves in where my waist used to be (aligned with my rib cage), and then bumps back up an inch or two where the baby is.  I guess there isn't any room for her to press down into the bed, so she gets hoisted up into the air!  So there is the stomach bumping, and the night time bathroom visits (about 2 per night), the weird dreams, & random cramps and aches - usually in my stomach.  I also can't roll over without a lot of conscious effort, so anytime my body is tired of laying in one position, I wake up automatically to hoist myself over to the other side!  I will enjoy sleeping on my stomach again one day :)

Cravings: I've started craving fruit again - big time.  Strawberries, bananas, pineapple, peaches - they all sound delicious!  I want some fruit salad!  I read this week that pineapple can help induce labor, but that it contains so little of whatever causes the inducement, that you would need to eat about 7 whole pineapples before it affected you :)
Other crazy symptoms: Before I was pregnant, I had no idea how much your core muscles just don't function like they used to when you are pregnant.  Its so hard to get up off the couch or out of bed.  I always assumed, when observing pregnant women in the past, that it was due to the amount of weight they had gained, and the big ball of a belly, that prevented them from leaning forward to stand up easily.  Now I know that your stomach just doesn't work!  I have to use my arms and legs and rocking motions to swing myself up!

I've started having a bit of swelling.  If you didn't know what my feet used to look like, you probably wouldn't notice, but I sure do.  They tingle at the end of the day, and my shoes are even tighter than last week.  It seems like my left side swells a little more than my right.  I used to have visible tendons on the top of my feet and now they are just puffed right over.

Best Moments this week:  
I went to the Dr yesterday and he said everything is looking great!  He confirmed that I am 80-90% effaced (my cervix has thinned way down), and the baby's head is very low already, so all that is left is dilation.  He said this should help my labor to go faster (who knows how much faster) because a lot of the work that some people do in labor is effacement - and I've already got that done!  Hurray!
We took a few more maternity pictures, this time at a local park.  I can't believe how talented Neil is with a camera!  Many of the people who saw them assumed that we had a professional do them.  I said, yes - my professional husband took them :)

Neil's parents are coming up tonight to be here for the big day!  I can hardly believe it is almost time!  It seems so surreal.  Neil and I fluctuate between extreme excitement and extreme nervousness.  Say a prayer for us if you think of it :)

And just for fun - here is a little side by side of my pregnancy progression: 15 weeks, 28 and 38 weeks!

15 Weeks

28 Weeks

38 Weeks

There is a chance this could be my last bumpdate!  Neil and I are tentatively expecting the baby to come on Tuesday (Oct 30th) for three *scientific* reasons:

1. There is a full moon on Monday
2. Karen's baby this summer was born about 5 days early, so we may be a couple days early
3. Neil said most 1st time moms go into labor in the 39th week.

So we shall see!  We may just as likely be 2 weeks late as 3 days early, but we're trying to be prepared either way :)